Friday, January 19, 2007


PHOTO: An Iraqi inspects damage inside a bedroom at Hussainiya Shiite mosque in central Baghdad, following a raid by Iraqi and US troops. Iraqi security forces arrested a top aide of fiery Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr in a new crackdown on militias as US Defence Secretary Robert Gates paid a visit to the strife-torn country. (AFP/Ahmad al-Rubaye) [Winning those hearts and minds. – dancewater]

Security Incidents for January 19, 2007

BAGHDAD – Iraqi tourist organization chief was assassinated near his home.

MOQDADIYA – Five members of one family wounded in attack when a rocket was fired on their home.

BAGHDAD – Wassit council members suspected of amuggling arms and were detained by the US army. Protests continue for a fourth day.

HIT – Iraqi police arrest over 20 civilians.

BAAQUBA – Iraqi army and multinational forces arrested five suspects during a search operation in the early hours of Friday.

Border Crossing with Syria closed.

FALLUJA - Two former policemen were shot dead in front of their homes in Falluja, west of Baghdad, police said.

FALLUJA - An Iraqi soldier was shot dead by a sniper in Falluja, police said.

RAMADI - A traffic policeman who was kidnapped on Thursday was found dead in Ramadi, west of Baghdad, police said.

KUT - U.S. backed Iraqi soldiers detained two members of the Wasit provincial council on Tuesday on suspicion of smuggling roadside bombs, the U.S. military said on Friday.

BAGHDAD - Iraqi and U.S. forces seized a prominent follower of Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr in Baghdad. The U.S. military described the man arrested as a senior death squad leader. An official in Sadr's political office said the man detained was Abdul-Hadi al-Darraji, a media spokesman.

BAGHDAD - One U.S. soldier was killed and three wounded by a roadside bomb in northwest Baghdad on Thursday, the U.S. military said.

HILLA - A bomb blew up a butcher's shop in Hilla, 100 km (62 miles) south of Baghdad, killing the butcher, police said.

HILLA - Gunmen opened fire on a minibus in Hilla, badly wounding two people, police said.

BAGHDAD - An official in the office of radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr's movement said a Shi'ite mosque in the southern district of Dora was badly damaged in an explosion. It was empty and there were no casualties.

KIRKUK - The preacher of a Sunni mosque in a mainly Shi'ite district of Kirkuk, an ethnically tense oil-rich city 250 km (155 miles) north of Baghdad, was shot dead in his home, police said.

RAMADI - Iraqi police shot and killed a suicide bomber after his explosive vest failed to detonate near a checkpoint in Ramadi on Wednesday, the U.S. military said.

SAMARRA - Iraqi police with U.S. advisers captured the suspected leader of several al Qaeda cells on Thursday in Samarra, 100 km (62 miles) north of Baghdad, the U.S. military said.

BASRA – Six British soldiers were wounded in a rocket and mortar attack on their base on Thursday night.

BAGHDAD – An ArmorGroup convoy came under attack while guarding explosives about 50 kms northeast of Baghdad. No reports on casualties.

BAGHDAD – An American woman and her three armed guards were killed by gunfire and rocket attacks after leaving a Sunni political party. Two more guards were wounded. They worked for the National Democratic Institute, and were reportedly teaching the Iraqis about democracy.

BAGHDAD – Two guards were killed and another one wounded when gunmen opened fired on a Shi’ite mosque in south Baghdad.

BAGHDAD – A truck driver ferrying supplies to US troops was kidnapped in north Baghdad.

KIRKUK – Roadside bomb attack injured one southwest of Kirkuk.


Baghdad Most Violent Province In Iraq

More people have been killed in Baghdad province than in any of the other 17 provinces of Iraq since the US-led occupation of the country began in 2003. Sectarian violence, insurgency and general lawlessness has displaced hundreds of thousands of Baghdad residents and left few aid agencies on the ground to help. "The people of Baghdad have been living in a constantly terrifying situation. Dozens of civilians are being killed daily and displacement has increased phenomenally since sectarian violence started in February of last year," said Yehia Barakat, political analyst of Baghdad University in the capital, Baghdad. …….Aid agencies greatly reduced their assistance to the capital and its surrounding cities after the Iraqi Red Crescent closed its 40 subsidiary offices in Baghdad city and suspended its work following the kidnapping last month of its workers and volunteers. The Iraqi Red Crescent is the only remaining aid agency that operates throughout Iraq. Baghdad province has 14 displacement camps run by Iraqi Red Crescent, the Ministry of Displacement and Migration, and some local NGOs. "Each camp needs urgent aid assistance, especially food supplies, medicines and educational programmes for children who were forced to leave their schools due to sectarian violence," said Fatah Ahmed, spokesperson for Iraqi Aid Association (IAA), a Baghdad-based NGO. According to Iraqi Red Crescent and local NGOs, nearly 220,000 people are displaced in the Baghdad province alone while the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) says about 40,000 Iraqis have been displaced in Baghdad province due to sectarian violence since February 2006. The Brookings Institution says 650,000 Iraqis are internally displaced countrywide, living in camps or abandoned buildings.

Trying To Flee Diyala Province

Hundreds of people have been trying to flee the eastern Iraqi province of Diyala, close to the Iraqi-Iranian border, following a recent offensive by US and Iraqi troops in the area. Although the offensive has ended, scores of families in rural villages were said to be hiding in their houses for fear that air strikes might start again. "During the past week, US forces have been attacking rural areas near Baqubah trying to flush out insurgents. Their air strikes have killed about 14 civilians and led to the capture of dozens of insurgents. But these attacks have caused many people to suffer because of lack of assistance and difficulties in getting to health centres," said Salah Ahmed, media officer for Diyala provincial council. The most affected areas are villages east of Baqubah, a city some 40km west of the Iraqi-Iranian border. Very few families managed to leave the area before the attacks started on 5 January. The closures of entry and exit points in the vicinity forced hundreds of families to stay inside their homes.

Population Influx Is Biggest Problem In The South

Iraq’s Shi’ite Muslim-dominated southern provinces have witnessed far less violence over the past three years than their eastern and northern counterparts. As a result, hundreds of thousands of Shi’ites have fled south or returned from abroad to seek refuge there, giving rise to a number of militias and making it increasingly difficult for aid agencies to cater to the needs of the displaced. “Aid workers all over the country lack security. In the south, we work in difficult conditions because of the presence of militias,” said Mayada Obeid, a spokesperson for South Peace Organisation, an NGO based in Basra, some 550km south of the capital, Baghdad, and Iraq’s second biggest city. “Sectarian differences have caused the death of many aid workers because people don’t understand us when we say we’re neutral. They would rather live without assistance than receive aid from people of a different sect.”

Anbar Province Plagued By Violence

Outside Baghdad, Anbar province has witnessed more fighting and killing than any of Iraq's 18 provinces since the US-led occupation of Iraq began in late 2003. While US forces flushed out a number of Sunni insurgent groups there in military operations in 2004 and 2005, the insurgents have returned and escalating violence has prevented NGOs and aid agencies from reaching people who desperately need food and medical supplies. Anbar residents say that ever since former president Saddam Hussein was overthrown, they have lived in constant fear. “During Saddam Hussein’s rule ours was one of the most prosperous areas in Iraq and was developing fast. But after the US-led invasion, all that development was destroyed in a few months. As if that was not enough, we are also scared of the sectarian violence that is getting worse by the day in this area,” said Abu Mustafa, a 39-year-old resident of Ramadi, the province’s capital.

Kurdistan Low in Violence But Lacking Services

Unlike other parts of the country, the three-province autonomous northern region of Kurdistan is not the Iraq of roadside bombs and beheadings. It is relatively safe and well-protected by an experienced security force. Locals and foreigners alike can walk around freely and there is even an active nightlife. …. "If political parties in the government of Kurdistan do not invest in peace and prosperity for the interest of the people of Kurdistan, then they will face internal pressure from an angry people, which could lead to everything collapsing," Dr Azad Ahmed Qader, a retired political professor in Sulaimaniyah, said. "There is no real democracy in Kurdistan. Press freedom is marginalised and people can't express opposing views about anything without fear of being jailed and tortured. Corruption is everywhere and the residents know that these politicians are just businessmen," Qader added. ….. "Despite all that, most of the residents [in Kurdistan] still depend on wells for their water needs and private generators for electricity. The government provides electricity for just two hours a day," said Ahmed Haj Ali, a spokesman for the Kurdish Institution for Human Rights Studies, a Kurdish NGO. "Still, roads and basic services are poor. Not all Kurds feel they will get a fair share of the new wealth from northern Iraq's oil fields and other businesses. On the outskirts of Arbil, for example, people live without running water or electricity," Ali added. [They also have problems meeting the needs of internally displaced persons. – dancewater]

The Battle To Save Iraq’s Children

The desperate plight of children who are dying in Iraqi hospitals for the lack of simple equipment that in some cases can cost as little as 95p is revealed today in a letter signed by nearly 100 eminent doctors. They are backed by a group of international lawyers, who say the conditions in hospitals revealed in their letter amount to a breach of the Geneva conventions that require Britain and the US as occupying forces to protect human life. [Please read the whole thing. It is just horrid. – dancewater]

The Letter: Sick Or Injured Children Are Left To Die In Hundreds

Sick or injured children, who could otherwise be treated by simple means, are left to die in their hundreds because they do not have access to basic medicines or other resources. Children who have lost hands, feet, and limbs are left without prostheses. Children with grave psychological distress are left untreated. We understand that the UK may withdraw its forces from Iraq in 2007. Before this happens, we call on the UK Government not to walk away from this problem, but to fulfil its obligations that it entered into under Security Council Resolution 1483 during the period 22 May 2003 to 28 June 2004. ……….We also ask the UK, as one of the Occupying Powers designated by Resolution 1483 as Trustees of "The Development Fund For Iraq," to properly account for these assets estimated at $23bn in May 2003. It is asserted that by June 2004 some $14bn vanished in corruption, theft and payment to mercenaries. We ask that all the revenues from Iraq's oil now pass directly to the Iraqi people, and that illegal contracts entered into by the Coalition Provisional Authority are revoked.

Health Care In Iraq

The convoy of flatbed trucks picked up its cargo at Baghdad International Airport last spring and sped northwest, stacked high with crates of expensive medical equipment. From bilirubin metres and hematology analysers to infant incubators and dental appliances, the equipment had been ordered to help Iraq shore up a disintegrating health care system. But instead of being delivered to 150 brand-new Primary Health Care centres (PHCs) as originally planned, the Eagle Global Logistics vehicles were directed to drop them off at a storage warehouse in Abu Ghraib. Not only did some of the equipment arrive damaged at the warehouse, owned by PWC of Kuwait, one in 14 crates was missing, according to the delivery documents. The shipment was fairly typical: Military auditors would later calculate that roughly 46 percent of some 70 million dollars in medical equipment deliveries made to the Abu Ghraib warehouse last spring had missing or damaged crates or contained boxes that were mislabeled or not labeled at all. Not that it really mattered. Just over three weeks before the Apr. 27 delivery, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had canceled the construction of 130 of the 150 PHCs for which the materiel was intended. As a result, the equipment that could help diagnose and treat Iraqi illness (and escalating bomb or gun injuries) now sits idle waiting for someone to figure out what to do with it. ……. But if Iraqis have failed to benefit from the idle PHCs, the 70-million-dollar contract to supply them has been a shot in the arm for Parsons Global.

Emergency Aid For Hospitals

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) provided Kirkuk General Hospital with enough surgical and other medical supplies to treat 100 wounded persons today, one day after a truck packed with explosives killed 10 people and injured 42 others in the centre of the city. Similar aid was provided yesterday for Al-Kindi Teaching Hospital in Baghdad, following one of the deadliest days in recent weeks.

VIDEO: Iraqi Priest Discusses Christianity in Baghdad.

Iraq Refugee Crisis Exploding – 40% of Middle Class Believed To Have Fled Crumbling Nation

Iraq is in the throes of the largest refugee crisis in the Middle East since the Palestinian exodus from Israel in 1948, a mass flight out of and within the country that is ravaging basic services and commerce, swamping neighboring nations with nearly 2 million refugees and building intense pressure for emigration to Europe and the United States, according to the United Nations and refugee experts. The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, which appealed for $60 million in emergency aid last week, believes 1.7 million Iraqis are displaced inside Iraq, whose prewar population was 21 million. About 50,000 Iraqis are fleeing inside Iraq each month, the United Nations said, and 500,000 have been displaced since last February's bombing of a Shiite shrine in Samarra. These figures are as of January 2007. ……… Roughly 40 percent of Iraq's middle class is believed to have fled, the U.N. said. Most are fleeing systematic persecution and have no desire to return. All kinds of people, from university professors to bakers, have been targeted by militias, insurgents and criminals. An estimated 331 school teachers were slain in the first four months of last year, according to Human Rights Watch, and at least 2,000 Iraqi doctors have been killed and 250 kidnapped since the 2003 U.S. invasion. Business owners are especially prone to extortion. The flight has undermined basic services such as water and sanitation and disrupted commerce, making it increasingly difficult for Iraqi society to function, officials said. Iraqi Christians were an early target after the 2003 invasion; after the February bombing, Shiite militias began taking revenge on Sunnis. Violence is rising in southern Iraq between rival Shiite factions. Refugees International said many people are targeted for "un-Islamic" dress or behavior.

Iraqi Students Condemn Bombings

Dozens of Iraqi students have protested against Tuesday's twin bombings at Baghdad's Mustansiriya university that killed 70 people and wounded nearly 140 others. Around 60 students from the University of Technology staged a sit-in in the district of Karada demanding more protection for students, professors and teachers. “We condemn the terror attacks against students” said a banner held by one student. Others shouted: "We want the government to protect the students and professors from terrorists," as security forces sealed off the area. One of the students, Yasmin Mohammed, said: "This attack is not targeting a specific sect. The university has students who are Shiites, Sunnis, Kurds and Christians. It is a war on everything associated with Iraq."

Baghdad Bombings: Who’s Responsible?

Several Arab and Sunni websites have accused “Safavids” of carrying out the car bombings against the Mustansiriya University, in Palestine Street, north of Baghdad, yesterday, or held them responsible for the bloody attacks that killed and injured over 80 students, most of them female. The websites point out that the university had turned into a stronghold for Sadrist activists and student unions, since a majority of students there are from nearby Sadr City, and Shi’ite religious ceremonies are often held at the university. Some commentators also mentioned that the same university witnessed a similar bombing in the 1980 by Shi’ite Da’wa Party militants when former Iraqi Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz was visiting, also killing several students.

Iraqi Factories, Aging and Shut

Audio Slide Show of three Iraqi factories are on this website. Two of the factories are shut down, but still in usable shape. The factories, state-owned enterprises under Saddam Hussein’s government, would appear to be the unlikeliest of saviors — things like a bus factory in an ethnically riven area south of Baghdad, a tomato paste factory in the Kurdish north, and a second plant in Ramadi that makes floor tiles with silk-screened floral patterns. The factories went dark after the invasion for a variety of reasons, including an insistence by the initial American occupation authority that once they closed, vibrant free markets would spring into existence to fill the void. But neither those markets nor the expected commercial and social benefits of the $30 billion American-financed reconstruction program have materialized. So a few officials and local leaders are returning to the shuttered plants in hopes of finding a cheaper way to help the economy and perhaps create jobs to attract young men who might otherwise join the insurgency.

…..The porcelain factory is another case entirely. When a worker unlocks a set of big metal doors and slides them back with a boom, a darkened interior perhaps 100 yards in either direction shelters machinery that looks as if it had just been purchased. Half-finished sinks sit in rows along the assembly lines like sculptures left by some artist who intended to return and complete the work with a few strokes of the chisel. And there is inventory. An assessment by the American occupation officials who shut this factory concluded that it was too small and inefficient to turn a profit in a competitive marketplace, but sinks with paisley and vine patterns look as if they could be sitting on shelves at Home Depot. [Hey, even the NYT is calling it an “occupation” now. – dancewater]

College Students Flee A System Under Siege

Even before bombings at a university killed at least 65 students this week, officials said Iraq's higher education system was on the verge of collapse. Faced with the lingering war and unrelenting sectarian violence, students by the thousands have been leaving campuses to return home or enroll at universities in other countries. Enrollment fell by more than half at some colleges in the past year alone, education officials said. Meanwhile, Iraqi professors continue to be targeted for assassination and intimidation. According to Iraq's Higher Education Ministry, insurgent and militia groups have killed at least 280 academics since 2003, and 3,250 others have fled the country. The violence also has caused as many as 40 percent of Iraq's professionals to flee the country since the U.S.-led invasion nearly four years ago, according to the Brookings Institution, an independent research group in Washington.

UN Warns Of Looming Crisis In Kirkuk

The deteriorating human rights situation in the oil-rich city of Kirkuk in northern Iraq could be a prelude to a looming crisis in the Kurdish region, the UN warned today. In its bi-monthly human rights report on Iraq, the UN voiced concerns at reports of mistreatment of ethnic Turkmen and Arabs by the Kurdish majority. "They face increasing threats, intimidations and detentions, often in KRG (Kurdish regional government) facilities run by Kurdish intelligence and security forces," the report said. "Such violations may well be the prelude of a looming crisis in Kirkuk in the coming months." While media attention has focused on Baghdad, which accounts for most of Iraq's bloodletting, Kirkuk could be lurching towards its own mini-crisis. Kirkuk, an ancient city once part of the Ottoman empire, has a large minority of ethnic Turks as well as Christians, Shias and Sunnis, Armenians and Assyrians. The city lies just south of the autonomous Kurdish region stretching across Iraq's north-east. Under Iraq's new constitution, a local referendum is to be held this year to determine whether Kirkuk should join the Kurdistan regional confederacy (the united administration of Irbil, Dohuk and Sulaimaniya provinces). Because of its oil wealth, the Kurds covet the city and want it to become their regional capital. It is a prospect that horrifies Turkey, which fears that a strong Kurdish enclave in northern Iraq with Kirkuk's oil wealth would galvanise separatist Kurdish guerrillas in Turkey who have been fighting since 1984 for autonomy.

Iraqi House-Swap Business

As more and more Shia and Sunni are displaced by the violence, a market in housing exchanges is emerging, complete with estate agents and short-term contracts. Sundus abdul-Fatah says she is still unsure whether she was right to leave her home in Baquba, where she and her late husband raised seven children. A resident of the Yarmuk neighbourhood in the Sunni majority town 65 kilometres northeast of Baghdad, 30-year-old Abdul-Fatah fled with her family to the capital after Sunni insurgents killed her husband and threatened her children unless they all left. She only had time to take a few valuables, moving to her sister’s until she could find somewhere to live - a problem facing many Iraqis displaced by the escalating sectarian conflict. “It’s hard to leave a house you built and spent your life in, with all your best memories. But death is dreadful,” she said through tears. “The image of my husband getting killed in front of the house pushed me to flee with my children, because I feared they will face the same fate. I had to leave everything behind.”

Insurgent TV Channel Turns Into Iraq's Newest Cult Hit

An American soldier slumps in the turret of his tank, felled by the infamous Baghdad sniper. A Humvee is vapourised by a roadside bomb. Rockets launch from a pick-up truck to shouts of "Allah u Akhbar [God is great]". Back in the studio a TV anchorman, dressed in fatigues, urges viewers to rise up and fight the invaders. "We will not surrender. Either death or victory," he vows, while warning US forces and their "Iranian" friends in Iraq's government that they face a shameful defeat. This is al-Zawraa TV, a 24-hour satellite station that lionises Iraq's insurgency to the drumbeat of Saddam-era martial music. It is a crude and dizzying mix of images and videos harvested from jihadi websites - and a cult hit. There are grainy loops of car bombs and mortar attacks interspersed with images of prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib and bloodied children. "Mujahideen" are seen training. Clips of Michael Moore's film, Fahrenheit 9/11 are thrown in for good measure. Its chief targets are the US-led forces and "collaborators". But it reserves some of its strongest venom for the Safawis, a derogatory term used by Sunni Arabs to describe Iraq's resurgent Shia political and religious establishment. The name harks back to the Persian Safavid empire which ran amok in Baghdad in the 16th century. The radical Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr and his Mahdi militia, thought to be behind many of today's anti-Sunni attacks, are excoriated as "murderous gangsters", while the Shia-led government is labelled as Iranian stooges. "We are not against the Shia, we are against the Safawis," the station proclaims. Al-Zawraa started life as a mostly song-and-dance channel, but following the closure of its Baghdad offices by the Iraqi government in November for "inciting violence" it made an abrupt change of tone.

Resettle The Most Vulnerable

Since 2003, almost two million Iraqis have fled their country as a result of violence, and several hundred thousands more have been displaced within Iraq. Many have fled their homes after being personally targeted by armed militias because of their religion, profession, ethnicity or perceived affiliation with western organizations, the US government in particular. With the violence showing no signs of slowing down, solutions need to be found for those whose lives are in danger.

History of Kurdistan

The Kurdistan region ("land of the Kurds") extends over an arc of about 600 miles long and 200 miles wide from Luristan in Iran to Malatia in Turkey. No Kurdish sovereign has ever ruled over the entire Kurdistan region, however several have ruled substantial areas, with the golden years around 1000 A.D. Before they were crushed by the Seljuk Turks. When WWI ended the entire middle east was redrawn, and as you might imagine, several opportunists took advantage of the situation. The Kurdish community was no exception.


Final Oil Draft Law To Be Referred Next Week

The final oil draft law will be referred to the Iraqi cabinet for endorsement and then to parliament to enact a legislation after discussing it, Iraq's oil minister said. "The draft had won the unanimous approval of parliament's energy committee after certain amendments were introduced," Hussein al-Shahrestani said in a statement received by the independent news agency Voices of Iraq (VOI) on Thursday. "Revenues from oil sales will go to one fund to be distributed to Iraqis in all provinces in proportionate with the population rate," the statement read, noting "the law will give a kiss of life to the national oil company, which will be in charge of developing the oil fields and increasing production and exports.

Muqtada al-Sadr Aide Arrested In Baghdad

Sheik Abdul-Hadi al-Darraji, al-Sadr's media director in Baghdad, was captured during a 2 a.m. raid on a mosque in the eastern neighborhood of Baladiyat, an official in al-Sadr's office said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of security concerns. The U.S. military said special Iraqi army forces operating with coalition advisers captured a high-level, illegal armed group leader in Baladiyat, but it did not identify the detainee. It said two other suspects were detained by Iraqi forces for further questioning. ……The U.S. military accused the main suspect of having ties with the commanders of so-called death squads, which have been blamed for many of the killings that have left dozens of bodies, often showing signs of torture, on the streets of Baghdad.

Top Iraqi (Hakim) Rebukes US on Iran

One of the most powerful Shia leaders in Iraq has condemned recent US action against Iran.

Kurdish Force Heads to Baghdad Battle Zone

The 1st battalion of the Iraqi Army's 3rd Brigade, 4th division, consists almost entirely of Kurds. Until this week, it has been based in the highlands of Iraqi Kurdistan, which without question in the safest part of Iraq. But on Monday, the first Kurdish soldiers began moving south to Baghdad. Their mission, according to Gen. Anwar Dolani, is to prop up the Iraqi central government and to stop "a very bad massacre of the people of Baghdad." Like many of the soldiers he leads, the general is former Pesh Merga. That's the name for Kurdish rebels who long fought against successive Arab-dominated governments in Baghdad. He knows the job ahead will not be easy. "The biggest challenge will be the communication," he said, speaking in Kurdish. "Also, our guys do not know the area. And probably 90 percent of our soldiers do not speak Arabic."


VIDEO: US Complicity With Saddam’s Crimes

Turkey Welcomes US Raid on Iraq Camp

Turkey on Thursday welcomed a raid by U.S. and Iraqi forces on a refugee camp of Turkish Kurds in northern Iraq as a first step towards combating Kurdish rebels, but insisted the camp must be shut down. Iraqi and U.S. troops conducted a search operation on Wednesday at the Makhmur refugee camp in northern Iraq, which Ankara has long argued provides a safe haven for militants from the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). Ankara has been urging U.S. forces to crack down on the Turkish Kurd PKK rebels, who use Kurdish northern Iraq as a base. "We desire a continuation of such steps ... in the context of our hopes for an end to the presence and activities of the PKK terrorist organisation in Iraq," Turkey's Foreign Ministry said in a statement.


A Fully Funded 6-Month Withdrawal Plan

It's long past time that we climb out of the hole. Today in the House of Representatives, I am introducing the Bring Our Troops Home and Sovereignty of Iraq Restoration Act, a comprehensive legislative proposal to quickly end the occupation of Iraq. It is a broad measure, capturing ideas from military and diplomatic experts and including provisions offered in previous legislative proposals. Specifically, the bill would, among other things:

- Withdraw all U.S. troops and military contractors from Iraq within six months from the date of enactment.

- Accelerate, during the six-month transition, training of a permanent Iraqi police force.

- Prohibit the continued funding, except for the redeployment of troops currently in Iraq, of combat troops to Iraq.

- Prohibit any permanent U.S. military bases in Iraq. (Despite official denials, bases are under construction, including one that includes a miniature golf course and a Pizza Hut).

Poll: Most Oppose Troop Buildup

Resistance to the war and distrust of Bush have grown, a new Times/Bloomberg survey shows. A strong majority of Americans opposes President Bush's decision to send more troops to Iraq, and about half of the country wants Congress to block the deployment, a Times/Bloomberg poll has found. As he seeks to chart a new course in Iraq, Bush also faces pervasive resistance to and skepticism about the U.S. commitment - more than three-fifths of those surveyed said the war was not worth fighting, and only one-third approved of his handling of the conflict. And in a striking measure of people's declining trust in Bush, half said they believed he deliberately misled the U.S. in making his case for invading Iraq.

US Lawmakers Seek To Bar US Attack on Iran

A bipartisan group of lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday pushed legislation to prohibit a U.S. attack on Iran without Congress' permission. The effort, led by Rep. Walter Jones, a North Carolina Republican who in 2005 joined calls from many Democrats for a phased U.S. withdrawal from the Iraq war, came as lawmakers voiced concerns that the Bush administration might provoke a confrontation with neighboring Iran. "The resolution makes crystal clear that no previous resolution passed by Congress" authorizes a U.S. attack on Iran, Jones told reporters, referring to the 2002 vote by Congress authorizing the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

PEACE ACTION: Progressive Democrats of America has been working and organizing support for HR 4232 since Rep. McGovern introduced this important bill in November of 2005. Rep. McGovern spoke at the PDA "Get out of Iraq" Town Hall meeting the day after he introduced HR 4232. We continue to work for its passage as a top legislative priority. We urge you to continue organizing support for HR 4232 and to ask your Congressional member to co-sponsor the bill.


QUOTE OF THE DAY: America is false to the past, false to the present, and solemnly binds herself to be false to the future. – Frederick Douglass


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